Vail Daily column: Drinking from the cup
November 2, 2016
September and October were the teacher's favorite months. Colors, temperatures and smells — all perfect. Next came winter, though, a time of glistening frivolity for some, but also a time that reminded him of the shroud of death.
The sound system in the bar pounded out "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC. The teacher couldn't help conjuring up an image of the lunatic, but talented, guitar player in his shorts and schoolboy outfit. He wondered if the band knew much about the founder of the first two initials in their name, the genius Nikola Tesla. More than a hundred years ago, Tesla could see things no one else could. Society mocked him for it, even though he demonstrated the truth of his ideas again and again.
Oblivious to deeper thoughts, motivated only by the pounding, catchy rhythm and screech, Mrs. USA danced over and sat down in the empty chair at the teacher's table.
The teacher nodded in greeting and then, contemplating anew winter's imminent deathly grip, asked, "Who are you voting for this November?"
"Hillary, of course," she said with a smile. "Aren't you?"
Instead of answering, he ordered some wine. "In that new cup I showed you, please," he added. The waiter nodded and hurried off.
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Apparently changing the topic, the teacher asked, "What's the relationship between truth and power?"
Shifting her eyes from the television back to the teacher, Mrs. USA answered with a frown, "I don't know. What a silly question."
The waiter set down the large spectacularly designed cup of wine on the table. "Drink up," the teacher invited.
Mrs. USA took a sip. "Very good."
"Yes, indeed," the teacher agreed, then pressed on, "You see, truth is the ultimate power. It never goes away. Truth's opposite, the lie, can prevail in the short term by confusing the observer about the truth. But, the truth, though obscured, is never changed. It never goes away. It always wins in the end. Lying is the essence of evil."
"Whatever," Mrs. USA shrugged and glanced back at the television.
"Have another drink," the teacher prodded.
"Thank you." Another taste. Another smile of delight. "Say, you're not one of the deplorables are you?" she asked suspiciously.
"Well, I've never lied straight to the face of a grieving mother who had recently lost her son due to my politically motivated incompetence. But, "deplorable" is probably one of the nicer things I've been called."
He motioned. Mrs. USA took the cup. This time she swallowed a mouthful.
Following her stare at the television, the teacher queried, "Where do you get your information about Hillary? I mean, if you stop and think it through, then how do you know anything about her?"
For a moment Mrs. USA became serious. This was a question she could answer. "Television," she replied, eyes still gazing up at the wall.
"Have you read any of Hillary's emails?"
"No. They haven't been on television. But, that's all a big lie. She was hacked." Another swig.
"But they are her emails. The hacker didn't alter the content of the emails."
"The television says it was the Russians."
"Again, the point is the content."
"Liar," Mrs. USA accused. "I'm gonna have you fact checked."
"You know, the first thing a liar does is accuse the other person of lying. By the way, there's plenty more wine in that cup. It never runs out. And, also by the way, you know what a fact is, right? And you agree that a fact is good and a lie is evil?"
"But seriously," Mrs. USA responded as if the teacher had been joking, "Hillary's fighting for me."
"She is?" the teacher couldn't hide his incredulity.
"Yes!" Mrs. USA proclaimed, offended. "The television says she wants to help the little person; make the wealthy pay their fair share; reduce the debt; install four bathrooms in every public bathroom, one for men, one for women, one for transgenders, and one for any confused group; end pollution; and bring about world peace."
That statement took too much time. Mrs. USA's mouth was dry. She watered it from the cup.
Then, looking up again at the screen, she finished, "And, Hillary's really smart."
"You know she failed her law exam, right?" the teacher replied and frowned, thinking this was common knowledge. He never watched television. "And you know her master's thesis was a glowing paean of praise to a guy who dedicated his work, literally, to the devil."
"Liar!" Mrs. USA spat.
She raised the cup again, drank for a few seconds, leaned back in her chair, and fell, unconscious. The cup bounced of the floor twice and landed bottom up. The waiter approached, stepped over Mrs. USA, picked up the cup and set it bottoms up on the table. On the bottom of the cup was written "Jeremiah 25."
"Who is Jeremiah?" he asked the teacher.
"Well, he's not a bullfrog. But, he is a good friend of mine. He wrote a book as part of a bigger book. Chapter 25 is," he paused, considering Mrs. USA, "sobering."
Some bells gonged on the sound system. Again. Again. Angus began to scratch out some chords. "Hells bells," AD/DC sang ominously.
Bob Branden lives in Gypsum.
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